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As cannabis laws continue to evolve across the United States, many residents of New York State are eager to understand their rights and responsibilities regarding home cultivation.

In this article, we will delve into the rules, regulations, and laws governing the ability of New York State residents to grow their own cannabis plants, including distinctions for medical card holders and the timeline for adult-use home cultivation.

Overview

On March 31st, 2021 New York State legalized adult-use cannabis by passing the Marijuana Regulation & Taxation Act (MRTA), which created a new Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) governed by a Cannabis Control Board to oversee and implement legislation passed into law. With legalization, residents are permitted to smoke and use cannabis in the privacy of their residence, outside anywhere cigarette smoking is permitted, and eventually inside cannabis consumption lounges. Individuals are allowed to carry up to 3 ounces of flower on them in person or 24 grams of concentrate and can have up to 5 pounds of cannabis flower in their residence. NYS has employment protections for off-the-job consumption and with that employers cannot take action against an employee because of the employee’s use of cannabis in accordance with the law, but can take action if an employee is impaired by cannabis on the job.

Medical Home Grow

On October 5th, 2022 the regulations allowing for home cultivation of medical cannabis went into effect, allowing any NYS resident with a medical marijuana card to grow 3 immature and 3 mature plants, or up to 6 immature and 6 mature plants for caregivers. A caregiver can either be an a designated individual or dispensary, whichever one the qualified patient designates before registering with the Department of Health. A caregiver can grow for up to 4 patients, however a caregiver cannot grow more than 12 plants (6 mature and 6 immature) in total at their household, at any one time. One thing to note is only female plants count towards the plant count and if an immature plant reveals itself to be a male you are allowed to grow an additional immature plant to replace it. A private residence is considered any building or part of a building, or structure designed and occupied for residential purposes only. Patients and caregivers can only grow in residences where they primarily reside, but private residences used for other purposes (e.g. second home or rental properties) should not be used.

Patients and caregivers can individually have 3 mature and 3 immature plants worth of cultivated cannabis and up to 5 pounds of useable cannabis. It is important to note a patient or caregiver cannot sell or barter (exchange cannabis to receive some other non-monetary goods) any cannabis seeds, immature cannabis plants, mature cannabis plants, or cannabis produced by a plant to any other person. Only up to 3 ounces of cannabis flower and up to 24 grams of cannabis concentrate can be given, without compensation of money or other goods) to another patient or caregiver.

Recreational Home Grow

With the passing of the MRTA in March of 2021, the bill allows for adult use home cultivation and briefly outlines the rules and regulations for NYS residents who do not have their medical marijuana card. The legislation signed into law states that any adult over the age of 21 years old can cultivate 3 immature plants and 3 mature plants, or 6 immature plants and 6 mature plants for households with more than one adult.

The bill states this law goes into effect 18 months after the opening of the first adult-use dispensary, which was Housing Works Cannabis Co. on December 29th, 2022. This means adult-use home cultivation will be legal starting June 29th, 2024! Members of the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) signed off on the long-awaited regulations authorizing adults to home cultivate mid-February of 2024 that was followed by a 60-day public comment period. It is very possible that sometime between now and the end of June these regulations will go into effect, allowing adults to immediately start growing their own medicine, but time will tell.

The cannabis plant is such a beautiful plant to grow and with NYS legalization allowing for home cultivation, individuals can not only deepen their connection with the plant, but provide themselves with home grown medicine that can be a real cost savings. With adult-use home cultivation around the corner now is the time to start getting excited about growing a few plants alongside your veggies outdoors or purchasing a grow kit to cultivate year long indoors.

Important Rules You Should Know

New York State asks residents to take measures to keep cannabis out of the reach of anyone under the age of 21 and to take reasonable measures when growing plants outdoors. Reasonable measures can include, but are not limited to, conducting cannabis cultivation in an enclosed area, not plainly visible from public view. Securing medical cannabis plants can include, but not be limited to, utilizing locks, gates, doors, fences or other barriers to prevent unauthorized access.

A landlord cannot refuse to lease, or otherwise penalize a patient or caregiver solely for engaging in medical cannabis activity as authorized. They also cannot include in their lease agreements a ban on medical cannabis use unless it would cause the landlord to lose a federal benefit. A landlord can implement a smoke free policy which would prohibit you from smoking or vaping medical cannabis in your unit, but this does not prevent you from consuming other forms of medical cannabis. A patient or caregiver can be held liable for any property damage that is outlined in their lease agreement, so this is something to be mindful of and is a reason why growing inside an enclosed area such as a grow tent would be the best option for mitigating odor and wear and tear damage.

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